Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Roshika Deo who plans to stand as an independent in Fiji's elections next year
DEO: There's a lot of objections based on the fact that perhaps of my age, my gender, and there's also a few sentiments being expressed because of my ethnicity. So I think it's a combination of factors, and a lot of it is generally expected. I mean we heard women candidates or women politicians speak about their experiences, which are very similar, but I suppose there's a new way of harassment with the presence of social media, which on its own is becoming a way that people are using to express hate speech.
COUTTS: And looking at some of the comments on Facebook appear to be gender-based, gender bias, this is one of the comments, as usual she blames patriarchy for everything, seriously can't she come up with a better line or slogan. And another, since your entire campaign is based on a crusade to save women from this still mysterious discrimination that exists in our society, the onus is on you to tell us what it is exactly that you're talking about. So a lot of gender-based, so I'm guessing you're campaigning for women and the rights of women?
DEO: Well that is one of the areas that we're focussing on, be the change campaign is focussing on women and children. It's definitely one of the main areas. But a lot of these comments, just the comment that you read, that's a recent comment, but a lot of similar misogynist attacks have been prevalent for the last few months. I think it initially started when my intention to stand for election was declared in a new local newspaper, and as a result they asked social media has been used as a way to pose threats and just attack the person instead of discussing issues.
COUTTS: Roshika it's not just a war or words or a policy campaign, you're getting rape threats against you?
DEO: Yeah there have been a few threats that have been of that nature. Some through public forums, some through private messages, but yes.
COUTTS: Now there's a lot of talk being going on about who can stand and who can't stand, and I'm just wondering in terms of the decrees, whether you as a woman can stand as an independent or whether you have to join a party?
DEO: The political parties registration decree has a short provision on it which stipulates that independents can stand for election, and the constitution which was released a couple of months ago by the current it also has provisions for independents. There's no fine details in terms of if independents have to get registered prior, but there's indications in the constitution and the political parties decree that independents would have to get registered once the nomination is issued, as would any political party candidate.
COUTTS: Now back on to a positive note before we finish this morning Roshika, are you getting any support anywhere, any positive feedback that Fijians are happy to have a woman as a candidate?
DEO: Yes I am, and I suppose that's one of the good factors about the campaign and something that is keeping us and me and everyone else that is involved in this campaign going. We are getting a lot of good support, we're getting a lot of support from young people, we're getting a lot of support from women, I mean you have access to the social media and you'll know that a lot of women are coming out in defence and are supporting, and there's also some men that are supportive. I mean you've seen the majority of the men prefer to attack, but there are a lot that have come out to support, they're either volunteering their time or they're in touch or they're spreading the word or they want to be involved in the campaigning one way or the other. So it has also been quite good too.
COUTTS: And what are some of the issues that you're campaigning on?
DEO: Right now we are in the process of developing policies around the issues. But the issues that we currently are looking at is women and children, the areas of education and health, and also we are focussing on land and environment, and also looking at accountability and transparency in terms of increasing accountability and also creating awareness of public accountability and enabling those forms of public accountability.
COUTTS: Are you the sole woman candidate or will you be joined by others?
DEO: There are other women candidates who are part of political parties that are standing as far as I'm aware. But yes, there are other women candidates.